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Tuesday, 8 May 2012
Page: 4193

Mr BRADBURY (LindsayAssistant Treasurer and Minister Assisting for Deregulation) (20:04): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of the Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2012-2013 is to provide funding for the operations of the four parliamentary departments.

The total appropriation sought through this bill is $174.5 million. Details of the proposed expenditure are set out in the schedule to the bill.

This bill provides appropriation for the Department of the Senate, the Department of the House of Representatives, and the Department of Parliamentary Services, as well as the independent Parliamentary Budget Office, which has been established to assist parliament in its scrutiny of the budget and fiscal policy.

Last year the government passed legislation to establish a Parliamentary Budget Office, marking a new era of parliamentary scrutiny of the budget process.

The PBO will be an important new institution to improve the transparency of Australia's already strong fiscal and budgetary frameworks.

Members and senators will have access to an independent and confidential costing service outside of a general election period.

They will also be able to use a fully transparent policy costing service during election periods.

The PBO will ensure the Australian community is better informed about the fiscal impacts of policy proposals, and will allow a more accurate and informed debate on economic policy in this country.

As to be expected, this is a body that is independent of the government, and therefore the establishment of the PBO is a matter for the parliamentary departments.

With the PBO soon to be operational, I'd call on those opposite to make the most of this body and submit their policies for costing.

We know from statements by their economic team that the opposition need to make $70 billion in savage cuts to balance their books.

They need to come clean with the Australian people and give the details of these cuts, and where they will come from.

The PBO will enhance the transparency and accountability of our democracy, and I look forward to it being up and operational shortly.

Debate adjourned.